Mohs Micrographic Surgery
No one wants to hear the word “cancer” when at the doctor. The good thing with skin cancer, however, is that it can be relatively easy to treat and remove, as long as it is caught early. Once diagnosed, Dr. Trovato can perform Mohs micrographic surgery to remove harmful cells and help treat certain types of skin cancer.
What is Mohs micrographic surgery?
This surgery involves the systematic removal and analysis of the thin layers of skin at a tumor site until the last traces of cancerous tissue have been taken out. What makes this procedure different from other cancer removal procedures is the immediate and complete microscopic examination and evaluation of the tissue that has been removed during the procedure, compared to after the surgery, which minimizes both the post-operative wound size as well as the chance of regrowth. This surgical procedure has become the single most effective technique for removing basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most common forms of skin cancer.
How does Mohs micrographic surgery work?
During the procedure, one thin layer of tissue is removed at a time. While the layers are removed, the margins of the tissue are studied under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells. If the result of the microscopic study shows that the margins are cancer free, then the surgery ends. If there are cancer cells present in the tissue, more tissue will be removed from where the cancer cells were found. The procedure repeats itself until the margins of the tissue sample show that they are free of cancer. Mohs micrographic surgery eliminates any guesswork in the removal of skin cancer, and can produce some of the best therapeutic and cosmetic results.
You may undergo Mohs micrographic surgery with Dr. Trovato if you meet the following criteria. You have recurrent basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, or high risk primary tumors with any of the following: an aggressive histologic growth pattern, location at anatomic sites that require tissue conservation (such as the face), and location in anatomic sites at which conventional treatment options have a high risk of recurrence.
Are there any disadvantages or limitations to this procedure?
As with any medical procedure, Mohs micrographic surgery does have its disadvantages and limitations. This procedure is tedious and may be uncomfortable for you, especially in difficult or complex cases. The inability to remove a difficult tumor may cause further complications in the future, and the need for other surgical procedures. The multiple injections of local anesthetic might also cause a slight discomfort throughout the procedure. Depending on the extent of the tumor, Mohs micrographic surgery might not be the only needed cure — you may need adjunctive therapy. In the case of large tumors, Mohs surgery may not be the best solution, as traditional excision could be the better option.
What should I expect to happen afterwards?
Mohs micrographic surgery can be a very effective treatment for skin cancer, especially in areas where taking the minimum amount of tissue is paramount, places like the face. Most of the healthy skin will be preserved, and the surgery also helps prevent recurrence of the cancer cells. Dr. Trovato will give you more concrete instructions for your wound care depending on the extent of the surgery. Recovery usually only takes a week or so before you can resume exercise and the like. The scar will fade as more time passes.